"A New York Treasure" --Village Voice

Saturdazed Soul

Word to Don Cornelius.

Tags:  don cornelius  soul train

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1 RIYank   ~  Feb 4, 2012 12:30 pm

Goddam it. I know, it's Super Bowl Weekend. But after tomorrow, I am ready for some fuggin baseball. Hurry the fuck up.

2 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 4, 2012 1:23 pm

The TV side of me owes a tremendous amount of respect to this brotha. It's such a shame he had to go out this way, but there is much love from the people he came from and helped raise in his way.

My stepsister told me that Dick Clark tried to bite off of Soul Train in their second season and that there was such an uproar about it that Clark agreed to back off. The show was shown in the west for a few episodes, but never made it east. Also did not know that Rosie Perez was a featured Soul Train dancer back in the day. That's just like younger cats finding out Jennifer Lopez got her break as a dancer in Rosie's troupe on 'In Living Color'.

My teenage nephew and I were watching a recast of a VH1 doc about Soul Train last night and as he was watching the dancers, he said "So this is where the dances that are out now originated from!" I looked at him and said, "You're just figuring that out now?" and he nodded his head. His Mom pointed out that it went back even further to the early Jazz era with all the juking and jiving dances, and beyond.

It was interesting that Jeffrey Daniels, another featured dancer, virtually took credit for creating "The Robot", "Pop Locking" and "The Moonwalk", all of which Michael Jackson later revolutionized on the show when he appeared and later in concerts and television specials. I bet he was implying that the whole breakdance revolution originated from Soul Train, but while I'm not so certain about that, I'm sure not going to believe rapping and deejaying was a Soul Train specialty before it ever hit the Bronx (Thank you VH1, ha!)

Don Cornelius was not a fan of rap and hip-hop in any regard, but tolerated it as good business for his show and he was right to a certain extent. The problem for me, which led me to stop watching altogether in the eighties, was that his distaste was so obvious and condescending that it was insulting to me as a fan. Why put up with that when you had video shows (New York Hot Tracks and later Yo! MTV Raps) that treated their guests with far more respect? On the other hand, Cornelius embodied the thinking of the older generation that did not grasp that era of hip-hop and was even frightened by its imagery. I kind of think that it was that attitude that brought the show down after a while, and though it continued for quite some time after he left, it lost too much ground to both MTV and the emerging BET (which later became the embodiment of all of Don Cornelius' fears and even went far below what early and middle age rap and hip-hop fans desired of our culture).

But I don't blame him for being out of touch in that respect; he was a savvy business man and helped elevate the profile of much of black music through each generation from the very late 60's-early 70's on. His death makes me wonder the same way that Guru's passing made me think; someone that you knew well, but hadn't seen and thought about in a while until something major happens and now he's gone. I'd like to think something could have prevented this from happening to him, but that's neither here nor there. I'm celebrating the man's life and his impact on my cultural upbringing.

3 Dimelo   ~  Feb 4, 2012 1:33 pm

[1] I'm all about the super bowl and my G-MEN, baseball doesn't exist right now.

Speaking of baseball.....

Cash sure got his pecker in quite the mess, his wife is filing for divorce now. I do like the pics I'm seeing of the bat-shit crazy woman he was banging, crazy girls will do just about anything in the sack. She probably had Cash singing this line over and over again:

I wanna have me a phat yacht
And enough land to go and plant my own sess crops
But for now, it just a big dream

For a moment there Cash was batting cleanup, but then she read her version of of "Moneyball" and Cash tried to have her committed.

The entire story is hilarious to me - except the part about his wife asking for a divorce. That's real and as serious as cancer. Oh well....won't be the last dude that'll happen to in the history of mankind, and I'm certainly not one to throw stones.

The other funny thing is that this bat-shit crazy girl is way hotter than any girl ARod's ever been seen with.

4 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 4, 2012 2:14 pm

[2] Oops, early 70's. Soul Train began in 1971.

5 Alex Belth   ~  Feb 4, 2012 2:45 pm

3) We've talked about this before...taste...there's no accounting for it.

6 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 4, 2012 2:48 pm

[3] When Cash decided to don a spiky wig and rappel off buildings, we speculated that he was in the midst of a mid-life crisis. I guess we can confirm that now...

7 thelarmis   ~  Feb 4, 2012 3:21 pm

[1] i'm with you RI! i have less than zero interest in the super bowl. can't wait for baseball season! that said, i still have a coupla months to try and be ultra productive before following all the games takes over!

8 Mr OK Jazz Tokyo   ~  Feb 5, 2012 4:56 am

[2] Chyll, I didn't know Don C was so wary of the hip-hop revolution..as you said, a generational thing perhaps. I will never forget my boss at Tower Recrods, Jamal Muhmammad (old jazz head and local DJ in the DC area, I spent a summer down there working at the Tower branch while in college). He was VICIOUS about rap/hip-hop..I think it actually scared him.

In any case, RIP Don! Soul Train is just classic. (Funny but why does that clip have Japanese sub-titles?)

9 Chyll Will   ~  Feb 5, 2012 12:21 pm

[8] Don actually said he was frightened of rap after Public Enemy perform on his show; that sort of nailed the coffin for me. Many older heads and especially jazz musicians HATED rap and hip-hop because it was so anti-mainstream and vociferous in it's anger about the common conditions of their origins. They must have felt it was counter-intuitive to behave in a way that was not cooperative with the established methods of being successful, and that it cast a degenerate shadow on all black culture, threatening to engulf them in the backlash from mainstream society they worked so hard to cultivate a relationship with.

Ironically, it's the mainstreaming of hip-hop that has many of US in arms now, particularly in that much of the culture that is incorporated and distributed is exactly as degenerate and counterintuitive as what rap was often wrongly accused of in the past. The focus on gangsta rap and the glorifying of the criminal culture is now big business, exactly the opposite of what hip hop tried to offer an alternative and break away from in real life in the past.

But Don was typical of the reaction from the elders who didn't like what they heard because it just sounded obnoxious or simplistic. Yet he had enough sense to capitalize on it without discouraging newer acts and helping to destroy it as an art form (like others did). Calmer heads listened to it and helped it develop artistically (Ron Carter, for example) while the more greedy or resentful ones sought litigation to discourage it's growth (the fights over sampling). I can understand the resentment because fairly often a rapper would borrow music created by someone else without giving proper credit or respect, but you have to blame the record labels for not doing their due diligence (they were often cheating the new performers too). And while it has evolved, it has also devolved and split the hip-hop culture into both positive and negative aspects.

I bet your old boss was from the camp that resented the inventiveness because it wasn't "creative" enough. I feel that way about today's rappers in a way; lazy and far more angry and idiotic than what it was accused of back in the day, but now more people (and corporations) are capitalizing off of it, and diminishing its meaning, spirit and impact. The very things we used to rail against have actually happened to hip-hop: marginalization and co-opted out of meaningfulness. So while Don was wrong about it at the time, he was right in the long run.

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"This ain't football. We do this every day."
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